Wild Australia: After the Fires

Signs of life and hope emerge from the scorched landscapes of the worst wildlife disaster in modern history.
Available on CBC Gem

Wild Australia: After the Fires

Nature of Things

Australia’s unique wildlife has a long, impressive history of surviving on the driest inhabited continent on Earth. Fire is a natural force that has shaped Australia for millennia but, as the 2019-2020 bushfire season made brutally clear, climate change is shifting everything.

After the worst bushfires in recorded history, the toll on Australia’s wild places and animals has been disastrous. Three billion animals were killed or displaced as 12 million hectares — an area the size of England — went up in flames. ‘The Forever Fires’ of Australia’s Black summer are now recognized as the worst wildlife disaster in modern history. But the tragedy has also set the nation on the path to put meaningful protections in place to conserve its rare and irreplaceable creatures.

Following hard-working carers, dedicated scientists and passionate volunteers, Wild Australia: After the Fires charts the ecological recovery of the scorched landscapes, through stories of hope, human intervention and resilience.

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In the year that follows the fires, life slowly returns to the scorched bushlands of Australia. Surveys reveal the survivors: kangaroos who were fast enough to flee and tiny bats who managed to navigate through the smoke, while wombats emerge from burrows where they sheltered from the inferno. Those that escaped the flames are now hungry and vulnerable. Wildlife carers support the animal refugees by bringing supplementary food for the survivors, as the landscape starts to green again.

Winter rains bring quenching relief and animals taken into care return to the recovering wilderness. Platypus rescued from drying pools at the height of the fires, swim once again in flowing streams and pouch checks on koalas released back into the wild, show they are now nursing the next generation.

Wild Australia: After the Fires provides an urgent message to safeguard our environment and bring about the necessary intervention required to maintain biodiversity on our hotter, more fiery planet, before it is too late.